GETTING THE MESSAGE/The love of God in Christ
In Song of Songs 3:6-11, we see the joyous caravan of King Solomon, who has gone to Egypt for his bride and is bringing her back through the wilderness to his throne. The passage, though, points to one greater than Solomon. Christ came into this world to get a bride for Himself, to redeem a people His very own and bring them to God.
Verse 6 reads, “Who is that coming from the wilderness like columns of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the fragrant powders of a merchant?” John the Baptist appeared out of the wilderness to announce the coming of Christ and told people that he was not the Christ. He said, “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom.”
The “columns of smoke” in verse 6 indicate the presence of God. Jesus came out of the wilderness to begin His ministry. The wilderness represents this present world. It is a desolate place, full of corruption and death. The desolation is because men do not know God and don’t honor God.
Isaiah chapter 35 is a prophecy of Christ’s ministry. Here are parts of that chapter: “The wilderness and dry land shall be glad. The eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then the lame man shall leap like the deer and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. Waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing and everlasting joy shall be upon their head.”
The “myrrh and frankincense” are familiar to us. These spices or lotions were used to anoint a priest or honor a king. The wise men brought them to honor Christ at his birth as the great king. Joseph and Nicodemus used myrrh to honor Christ’s body in His burial.
These fragrant aromas remind us why Christ is to have the first place in our hearts. He is the King of kings, yet he was willing to die to satisfy divine justice. For those who believe in Him, His death removes all sin, no matter how numerous or aggravated it is. The difference between one sinner and another in this matter is of no account. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Are you a sinner? Know this, that unless you have Christ, you will perish. Paul uses the aroma of Christ to illustrate this in 2nd Corinthians 2: “Through us God spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those being saved and among those who are perishing. To one a fragrance of death to death, to the other a fragrance of life to life.”
The Old Testament depicts God as receiving humble sacrifices as a sweet aroma. These all looked forward to the great sacrifice of Christ that God is well pleased with. When the gospel is preached, there are alternative and antithetical effects: either death or life. The force of the gospel is such that it is never preached in vain, but is effectual, leading either to life or to death.
At Christmas, we often review the story of the wise men coming from far away to see the birth of Christ. This is the grace of God at work. He works His grace in men to draw them to Christ. It doesn’t matter what they must leave behind or what cost there is, when they are being drawn to Christ, they will come and rejoice in Him.
Christ has all the perfections in Himself to render the salvation of men possible and honoring to God. Every man in this world needs the Lamb of God for the taking away of his sin. The gospel is just as much fitted for me as for you, and for you as for me. Christ and His sacrifice meet your case before God as they fit mine.
It is the love of God that sent Christ, and the love of God that Christ was willing to come for sinners. The love of God can only be finally understood and appreciated in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is what God has done in Him and through Him that reveals it all. Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of Christ’s people He has adorned to meet with God.